Forget love at first sight. Get ready for marriage on first date!
"It seemed like a fun idea at the time," chuckles Phoenix deejay Danny Bonaduce. "Of course, my fiancee back in Philadelphia wasn't too thrilled about it."
The erstwhile smartass of The Partridge Family recently married a woman he'd known for less than eight hours. What's it like to be married to a sitcom icon? Bonaduce has agreed to share his married life--in his own words--with New Times readers. First, however, a few words about the fastest courtship in Arizona history.
The lucky lady--the one he married--is Gretchen Hillmer, a former employee of a talent agency that books guests on Bonaduce's Power 92 show.
For those of you who swooned over little Danny Partridge in the Seventies, this is how he broke your heart in the Nineties:
After chatting on the telephone briefly November 4, Danny accepted a dinner invitation from Gretchen.
"We had an excellent evening, came back to my house and I put my best moves on her," recalls the 31-year-old Partridge alum. "I went for the big smoocheroo and that worked out nicely, so I went for a little more and was totally shot down.
"She told me, `I can't possibly do that until I'm married!'"
Undaunted, Bonaduce shouted, "Cool! Wait right here!" He ran downstairs, got out the Yellow Pages and telephoned a minister. "We were married within the hour," he says. And he still is.
What about the "I-can't-do-that-until-I'm-married" thing? Bonaduce made a startling discovery.
"Brand-new rule," he says. "Turns out she's turning over a brand-new leaf. The minister left the house, I started to undo my shirt and I said, `Listen, honey, I know you're probably very nervous about this.' She said, `Yeah, right. Come over here and put this hood on!'"
Take it away, Danny!
HOW TO SURVIVE MARRIAGEBY DANNY BONADUCE There are very few subjects on which I am an expert, and it seems only logical that my first written word since moving to Arizona should revolve around one of these.
My first choice was "How to Survive Being a Child Star." I have twenty years' experience, but according to Geraldo, Sally, Joan, and Oprah, The Partridge Family is what screwed me up in the first place. So that's out.
Option two: Radio. "How to Survive Radio." After all, I work on a hit station, in morning drive no less. But after being unceremoniously asked to leave broadcasting on every station east of the Mississippi, that seems a bit premature.
After I put that big red "X" through idea number 27, it came to me like a revelation. I heard a voice, and the voice said, "Danny, you are a useless mound of quivering flesh serving no purpose. JUMP!!" I concurred. Just as I pulled open the window, I heard another voice. This voice said, "Close the window, honey, you'll catch cold." It was the voice of my lovely new bride. "That's it!" I thought. I'll write about marriage. I haven't screwed that up. Unless you count my first marriage, and I don't. So, here we go: "How to Survive Marriage."
First, let me give you some background. We have been married for less time than Christopher Cross was hot; seven weeks to be precise. Furthermore, we were married on our first date, so we really don't know each other very well yet. I don't feel comfortable leaving my underwear on the floor, and as far as I can tell the woman has not broken wind in 49 days.
As we grow closer, I notice that there are things that will have to be done if this is going to be a successful union. No. 1: Cancel all expectations. The moment we made our vows, I had a plan. As a married man, I would lose weight, save for our future and possibly take some classes at the local university. Since the nuptials, I have gained fourteen pounds, have $89 and no longer leave the house. I'm sure things are the same for her, but I am afraid to ask.
That brings me to No. 2: Honesty. Here is my advice on the matter: Under no cirmcumstances should you tell the truth if a lie will suffice. I realize this may sound ridiculous, but let me give you a case in point. Three weeks ago, on our first-month anniversary, I took my wife, Gretchen, to South Mountain to look at the view. As we looked down at the lights and held hands I made the mistake of asking, "Have you ever been here before?" "Yes," she said. I pressed on in disbelief. "With whom and what did you do?" I could not believe her folly. She continued to tell the truth, "With an old boyfriend to look at the lights." I believe if you go to that spot on South Mountain and roll down your window you can still here my cry of "BITCH!" bouncing off the canyon walls. On the other hand, three nights ago we went back to the same spot, held the same hands and looked at the same lights. This time when I asked, "Have you ever been here before?" she said, "No, honey, never, and it's beautiful." I believed her and life was good.
Next point: Be kind to in-laws at all costs. My wife is a fairly old-fashioned and religious woman. Her parents are even more so. You can imagine their surprise at the midnight phone call. "Hi, mom, it's me. I just got married. When did I meet him? Oh, this afternoon." After a few tense moments came the really hard part. "His name? Danny Bonaduce . . . " I couldn't hear what was being said on the other end, but from my wife's responses I had a feeling it wasn't going well. "Yes, mom," she said, "the one from TV . . . yes, the one from the papers . . . no, he doesn't do that anymore . . . he wouldn't do that, the Enquirer made that one up!" After some more conversation, we made plans to meet the next day.
The next morning I showered, shaved, put on my Sunday best and hopped in the car to go meet Tom and Wanda (the in-laws). After they had satisfied themselves I wasn't hiding 666 anywhere on my person, they were polite and even seemed glad to meet me. Tom's hobbies are sports and building things. I immediately put my "be nice rule" into effect, and joined in these "husbandlike" pursuits. He didn't buy it for a minute. I am not sports illiterate enough to confuse a first down with a home run, but I did keep saying things like "I think the guys in the green hats will win." But when I finally yelled out in disbelief, "If everyone is going to jump on the guy, why would anybody catch the ball in the first place?" I had lost him.
The mother, on the other hand, was more forgiving and invited me to join in her hobby. Hiking up Camelback Mountain. I would rather watch sports while building things. But what the heck. Be nice. I showed up the next morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to conquer all obstacles that loomed between me and the cockles of her heart. My enthusiasm was dampened when instead of a slap on the back I got criticism. "Danny," she said, "do you think three-inch heels and a black leather jacket are appropriate climbing attire?" Falling back on old instincts, I lied. I explained to her that I had just come from an awards breakfast for local motorcycle gangs. Now all was lost, but we started the hike anyway. I'm not really sure what happened next. I have a vague memory of coughing up black stuff and of a Med-Evac helicopter. I'm no jock, but I make a hell of an exit. New rule: Never volunteer.
Worming my way into the heart of Gretchen's fourteen-year-old brother was easier. I give him cassettes, concert tickets and every weekend I take him to the filming of Power 92's dance show, "Phoenix Jams," where fourteen-year-old girls abound. Derek loves me.
Okay, so let's recap: 1.Cancel expectations. 2.Lie. 3.Be nice. 4.Never volunteer. 5.Buy affection whenever posssible. Following these rules, as I have, everyone is happier for Gretchen than if she had married, say, Charles Manson, which is a step up for me. And, I'm sure my plan can work for you, too. If you get married and don't choose to follow my advice, I hope things work out for you as well as they have for me. I could not be happier and expect to be this happy for years to come. I had some more advice to give, but, gotta go. Gretchen's lawyer is on the phone.